An Opioid Crisis or Avoidance Crisis?

There has been much talk in the last six to twelve months about opioids and the “opioid crisis” going on. Most talk has centered on how doctors prescribe opioids-- and how can the medical community prevent addiction? With all intent to make one a bit uncomfortable, here’s an idea:  let’s not prescribe them.

Better yet, let’s get to the root cause of the pain, treat it and attempt to deal with what life brings us: both pain and vibrant health, without the avoidance of one in seeking the other.

Yes, easier said than done. Such a thought makes both doctor and patient uncomfortable, as the symptoms are real, and unpleasant. But what if Naturopaths, and conventional doctors, believed and acted upon foundational ideas and concepts written by our predecessors?

“Article V, Section 5. The use of sedatives, analgesics, anaesthetics, narcotics or barbiturates to relieve pain, (except temporarily or in an emergency) at the expense of future health, or because of failure to eradicate the underlying causes of disorder of which pain is only a symptom, shall be considered contrary to the accepted theory and practice of naturopathy. The continued use of such substance is poisonous to the body, habit-forming, or makes the patient dependent upon them.” 

Standard Naturopathy, Paul Wendel. 1951.  p109-110

Everyone knows that removing pain chemically can bring dependence on the substance that removed it, as it only covers up the symptom (which in this case is the pain itself). What if in trying to cover up the pain, we are actually avoiding the cure?!!?

No one wants pain. We don’t seek after it. When it comes to physical, spiritual, emotional or mental pain, we do all we can to run from it. For the most part in our society, we avoid all forms of pain in our lives. We avoid. The opioid is not the real problem. The real problem is our avoidance. In the medical field opioids are used to cover up physical pain. However:

“Pain is not the disease, but is a consequence of the disease, of some injury received or of the accumulation of more or less morbific materials. Pain is the announcement of something wrong in the system; the relief of pain is to be sought in the removal of that which gave rise to it. Morphine usually relives pain, but it is at the expense of vitality. It relieves no obstructions, re-establishes no suppressed functions, relieves the system of no offending substances, but usually leaves the nervous system much irritated and the whole system less able to determine the provoking cause, and less liable to recognize remedial measures.”

Physio-Medical Therapeutics. TJ Lyle. 1897/1932. p19

If the pain is gone, why would we then be interested in seeking the root cause of the pain?

Pain can also teach us. Might it be true that in our society, we do not like to be taught, either? Pain can teach us that we are mortal and fragile. It can teach us that our choices, even good choices, have consequences and negative results. The soldier who has bad knees from road marches and over-packed rucks did it for a good reason: to serve and defend. Yet, there were negative results. That does not mean we cannot find other ways to help the pain. It might be even possible to remove the pain without the avoidance or covering up of the pain.

“Medical science is founded on a false premise-namely, that disease is caused by extraneous influences, and that drugs are something that cure and palliate discomfort…Drugging pain of any kind checks elimination and prevents the human organism from cleaning house.”

Naturopath and Herald of Health. Dr J.H. Tilden, 1937

When we avoid, we do not clean. When we avoid, we do not have to get to the root cause. When we avoid, we stop an ultimate healing.

Yes, the opioid crisis is real and needs to be dealt with, but so does our avoidance. When cleaning the “bodily house” is avoided, all manner of illness and evil take up residence in the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental planes. This is not about one single answer; rather a call to ourselves, myself included, to see where we are avoiding. In our avoidance, are we preventing the body from doing the cleaning it has design and function to do? The cleaning may involve pain or discomfort, and it may take time; but if at the end there is a clean house (no pain and no covering of symptoms) would that not be the wiser choice, in spite of a little pain?